Population projections for the Waitaki District have been gloomy for years.
The trend has been for fewer people and the average age of those left getting higher.
But yesterday’s announcement by Statistics New Zealand of electorate populations from this year’s census shows that the Waitaki Electorate’s population has increased from 60,135 to 64, 962.
The electorate includes not just the Waitaki District but most of Central Otago, all of Waimate and Mackenzie Districts, part of Queenstown Lakes and part of Timaru City.
QLDC was expected to increase in population because of Queenstown’s growth but that town is in neighbouring Clutha Southland electorate, not Waitaki.
Wanaka, which is in Waitaki, has grown but more than 3,000 extra people would almost have doubled its population which is unlikely.
There’s been a mini boom in grape growing in Central which will have brought more people into the area but again I’d be surprised if it’s thousands.
Both Waimate and Waitaki Districts have had a big increase in dairy farming which increases employment opportunities on and off farm.
Could it be that anecdotal evidence of a population increase, and a lowering of the average age, because of dairying is reflected in official statistics?
The answer to why Waitaki has grown and where will come when more census data is released.